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Pope walks with Gypsies
Pope Benedict received groups of European gypsies in audience at the Vatican on Saturday to mark the 150th anniversary of the gypsy martyr of Spanish origin, Blessed Ceferino Gimenez.Blessed Ceferino Gimenez
- Vatican City
- June 13, 2011
Gimenez, who lived from 1861 to 1936 and was beatified by Blessed John Paul II in 1997, Radio Vaticana reports.
The various communities: the Roma, the Sinti, the Manouches, KalĂ©, Zingari, Yenish, Romanichals and Travellers, have encountered varying degrees and kinds of treatment through the centuries, ranging from tolerance to persecution.
During the course of the Saturday audience with Pope Benedict, several people shared their experiences of the 20th century, during which the persecution of gypsies became systematic and ruthless.
Born in Austria in the first half of the last century, Cejia Stojka was 9 years old when, along with her relatives, she was deported, first to Auschwitz, then to RavensbrĂĽck, and then to Bergen-Belsen. She told Pope Benedict how her family counted more than 200 members, only six of whom survived the war and the extermination. She told the Holy Father of how through the years and decades since the closure of the camps, she can still hear the shouts of the SS, still see guards with their dogs that mauled the prisoners, still smell the burning of human flesh. â€śI am afraid,â€ť she said, â€śthat Auschwitz is but sleeping.â€ť
In his own remarks on Saturday, Pope Benedict said, â€śThe conscience of Europe cannot forget so much pain!â€ť adding, â€śNever again must your people be the object of vexations, rejections and disdain!â€ť
He went on to say, â€śOn your part, always seek justice, a law-abiding life, reconciliation,â€ť and calling on his guests to make every effort to avoid being, â€śa cause of anotherâ€™s suffering.â€ť
"The Church walks with you," said Pope Benedict, "and She challenges you to live according to the high and demanding requirenments of the Gospel, confiding in Christ's strength, toward a better future."
Pope Benedict XVI to gypsies of Europe: "The Church walks with you!" (Radio Vaticana)